Shade-Tolerant Roses

Shade Tolerant Roses A selection of Hybrid Musk ‘Queen Margrethe’, left foreground; ‘Rosy Purple,’ (right) roses grow in the shade of towering Douglas fir trees in the north garden at Heirloom Roses.

Nearly all roses perform best in full sun (more than 6 hours a day) where they set the most bloom and are more resistant to disease. However, a number of roses can tolerate partial shade. Certain classes of roses tend to be more shade tolerant. These roses are closely related to species roses native to forest or thicket habitats. Once-blooming varieties (many old garden roses) require less light.

Although less prolific than sun-drenched plants, roses grown in partial shade (about 4 hours of sunlight a day) retain their color and fragrance longer. Pale or pastel blooms brighten dark garden areas, while often getting washed out if planted in full sun. That open space in your border that gets dappled light may not be such a bad location after all.

Tips for Growing Shade-tolerant Roses

  • Select prolific bloomers such as floribundas and spray roses, rather than hybrid teas.
  • Choose pale or pastel blooms that “pop” in shady areas.
  • Supply adequate water with good drainage.
  • Apply sufficient fertilizer.
  • Utilize proper pruning practices, as shaded roses tend to grow taller.
  • Plant away from tree trunks to avoid root competition

Playboy (Floribunda) Playboy (Floribunda)
Darlow's Enigma (Hybrid Musk) “Darlow’s Enigma” (Hybrid Musk)
Mary Rose (Shrub/Austin) Mary Rose (Shrub Rose, David Austin®)
Cornelia (Hybrid Musk) Cornelia (Hybrid Musk)
Mermaid (Hybrid Bracteata) Mermaid (Hybrid Bracteata)
Scabrosa (Hybrid Rugosa) Scabrosa (Hybrid Rugosa)
Altissimo (Large-Flowered Climber) Altissimo (Large-Flowered Climber)
Queen of Denmark (Alba) Queen of Denmark (Alba)